“If you can’t communicate openly, with candor, how is collaboration even possible?” says Bob Johnston, CEO and chairman of the board of directors for Front Burner, the management company for The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc.
Bob’s learned that there is great power in creating an environment where employees share their ideas, opinions, and can problem-solve together in a transparent way.
“The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”
“We include our team in as many things as we can, discussing the good, bad, and the ugly,” says Bob.
Bob says that transparency is valued at the company, which is been critical as the company has grown: “We encourage all team members to be candid with one another and foster this by not exacting a price when people speak their mind, especially when it does not line up with the thinking of the day.”
But Bob also says it has taken time to evolve and to get to their current level of openness with one another. Encouraging that degree of trust in any organization is a commitment—and the work is never done.
Bob says right now, they are in the middle of identifying and honing their leadership model which supports the ability to be as open and collaborative as possible. It’s this focus on culture and authentic, conscious leadership that Bob credits as the reason the company has grown 5 times faster in its second decade of business compared with its first.
An Open Culture by Design
Open communication may start at the top, but consider looking across your culture for areas where you can be more intentional about how you communicate. For example, Front Burner re-examined their daily conversations to look for ways to make communication more open, constructive, and solution-oriented.
“We have a multi-year initiative to shift the majority of our communications to audio and/or visually rich communications,” explains Bob. For example, in place of emails and memos, team members will be sharing more short videos or visual presentations with each other. This format of communication can be viewed anywhere, and at any time. Sharing more visual communication gets ideas out on the table, and it supports transparency, collaboration, and greater thinking.
Front Burners’ office environment is also open, again, by design. It may not be a fit for every company, but it helps the teams at Front Burner be open and collaborate more often. “We haven’t filled [our building] with private offices where people are isolated. We don’t hide all of our ‘junk’ behind pretty paneling or cover it with marble flooring. The ceilings are open—you can see the ‘guts’ of our home,” explains Bob.
“The exposed office was by design, to remind us of how we want to be as an organization: open, candid, honest, and authentic.”
Your leadership is deeply rooted in your ability to empower others through daily conversation. At the Leading Powerful Conversations workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to practice communication skills that will ensure the best thinking – from you and others – is brought forth. Come away with new skills that can help your conversations becomes more constructive and solution-oriented.